LAHORE    -   The 14th session of the Punjab Assembly met its abrupt ending yesterday amid calls from the Opposition for issuance of production orders of its detained members.

The government had initially called the session for two weeks, but it had to be adjourned sine die just after five days, thanks to the number-strong Opposition which kept pushing for the production orders throughout the week.

In the beginning of the session, Speaker Parvez Elahi and Law Minister Raja Basharat had assured the Opposition that they would take up the issue with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on his return from Saudi Arabia. Insiders said they discussed the matter with the chief minister who reportedly expressed his helplessness in this regard.

Consequently, Speaker did not come to chair Friday’s Assembly proceedings since he had no argument to offer to the Opposition. Parvez Elahi who had earlier spearheaded the initiative to pass a law on production orders of the Assembly members is not happy with the government. In the recent past, he has been taking credit for the legislation done for the first time in Assembly’s history.

Following the Question Hour, PML-N’s firebrand Rana Mashhood took the floor and demanded Chair’s ruling on non-production orders of the Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz. His point of order came next to the speech by PPP’s parliamentary leader Hasan Murtaza who agitated the issue of Khurshid Shah’s arrest by the accountability bureau in Islamabad the other day. Murtaza had to leave his speech in the middle to stage a token walkout after constant heckling by PTI’s Uzma Kardar and Dr Murad Raas.

At the time Mashhood finished his speech and the Law Minister rose from his chair to respond to the point of order, Hasan Murtaza entered the House. Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari asked him to resume his speech instead of giving floor to the law minister. Murtaza noted with concern that all PPP leaders including Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur and Khurshid Shah had been arrested in Islamabad whereas the cases against them were instituted in Sindh province. He recalled that already his party had the bitter experience of carrying the dead bodies of its leaders from Rawalpindi-Islamabad.

When Hasan Murtaza was protesting over party leaders’ arrest and accusing the government of damaging the federation, something was cooking up in Mazari’s mind. He was thinking over plans to avoid a response on PML-N’s demand for a ruling over non-issuance of production orders. He hit on a novel idea which worked well. As the PPP leader ended his speech, the Deputy Speaker took no time leaving the podium after the announcement that the session has been prorogued sine die. It was so abrupt that it left everyone in the House in a state of shock for some time.

Earlier in the day, Parliamentary Secretary for Livestock Rana Shahbaz taxed the patience of lawmakers by giving irrelevant answers to their questions. But, at times, he would sound funny and bring smile on their faces. The exaggerated figures he gave about the number of hens raised by his department for distribution among farmers made him a laughing stock in the house. Speaker Sardar Dost Mazari was seen struggling to control his laughter. But the PTI lawmaker surely failed to impress PPP’s Usman Mahmood who withdrew his question in protest over his non-serious attitude.

Also, Rana Mashhood of the PML-N kept the issue of non-availability of medicine for cancer patients alive for the second consecutive day. Speaker Parvez Elahi had on Thursday taken serious notice of it and directed the Health Minister to take immediate measures to ensure supply of medicine.

Insiders say that present government started audit of the Rs8 billion the previous government had given to a pharmaceutical company for supply of cancer medicine. It was in a bid to unearth a possible scam in the award of contract. The company became apprehensive of government’s move and stopped the supplies. Sources said the audit has not revealed any shady deal with the company but patients are dying for shortage of medicine. So far, five such cases have been reported from Punjab.

He also raised alarm over the rising number of dengue patients in Punjab.